My favorite thing about Autumn is the harvesting. Food and grace bring people closer. A gift from God.
You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing. Psalm 65: 11-13
- A sweet older German woman from our church comes rushing to our door with paper bag after paper bag filled with seasonal vegetables, plums, and apples. She doesn't have time to stay because she has to get back to her garden. I call and tell my Mom about this and she informs me that my Grandpa (diagnosed with acute-leukemia) coincidentally said that he missed the mini plum-tree from their old house and wondered if she remembered how sweet they were in comparison to the store-bought plums. IDEA! I quickly strap the kids in the van and we cruise off to complete a special delivery. We are not able to see my Grandpa in person as he had completed his first chemotherapy treatment hours before but we are greeted by my Grandma and Mom in their driveway. My Grandpa has very little appetite these days but the site of the plums made him want to taste and remember. Our hearts are full. Abundance.
- A woman in her 90s with wit and humor quicker than my own welcomes my family over to have complete access to her garden and pick fresh raspberries. Her eyes smile as she watches our kids run and eat raspberries without abandon. Their energy enlivens her. After our long day at church (no nursery for two years! but behavior improving nonetheless) she calms my conscience by pulling me close and telling me that she loves hearing the kids in church and urges me to keep on... to not stop bringing the little ones to Jesus. She continues, "The years go by so fast... I still remember the years of being that needful mama and I miss them." A reminder. I hug my children closer, look at their tiny hands and am filled with gratitude. Our time together warms my heart and she calls later to tell us what a happy time she had as well. What is her gift? What else is she harvesting? Gladness.
- Upon pulling into my driveway I stop short of almost hitting our neighbor - I'm holding my breath, no joke. His form was hidden behind a large tree. I roll down the window to say "Hello! Oh! Please excuse me!" but he doesn't answer or even acknowledge that my van is within feet of him. I quickly realize that our new neighbor, a 92 year old Chinese man, is hard of hearing. I park the van and walk near to tell him the crab apples that he is sweeping off of our driveway will be cleared by my husband. He cannot understand me so I say in Chinese, "Mei guan xi!" that means "No problem, it does not matter!". He insists on clearing our driveway and I relent pushing the matter. I continue to practice my broken Chinese with him and learn where he is from. Our little conversation reminds me of my love for his home country and my heart is so happy to have made this new friend. Almost everyday I catch him and his wife outside my window working together and enjoying this simple task of sweeping the crab apples from our driveway back on their lawn.
Another day the children and I are outside raking regular apples in our backyard and we see our neighbor in his garden. I jump and scramble to find several large apples without spots from our fruit trees and have the kids join me in delivering them to him. Again with my broken Chinese I offer him the fruit. He repeats "Bu hao!" which means "No good!" to me while pointing to his mouth of missing teeth. Ah... he doesn't have many teeth to chew the apples with. I nod and leave the apples awkwardly on the bench anyway. My oldest yells "Zai jian!" with her squeaky voice and takes off for the play house.
Later, I notice a person walking up to our front door. I open it to find our elderly Chinese neighbor's younger daughter. What a surprise! I thought it was just the elderly couple that lived there. Turns out she works at Panera Bread and hands me a large box filled with AMAZING pastries and decorated pumpkin cookies from her work. We quickly learn each others names, her parents' history, her life in America, our brief time in China and we agree to have tea soon. IDEA! Remember all those crunchy apples that I harvested from our fruit trees? I'm going to make some applesauce just for them. Strong and weak teeth can enjoy that. :) Oh! What gifts I have been given just so that I can share them with others! Joy.
...remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35b
What are you harvesting this season? Who can you share your blessings with if you have an abundance? Perhaps someone who least expects it? Maybe you can share some words of encouragement to reap gladness? Or random acts of kindness to bring joy?